How our Business has found Opportunity in Market Shifts following the Corona Disruption
Two months ago “corona” was a word that related to something happening in China and getting a bit boring as a story and we were well into the work year. Having finalised our budgets for the next financial year, we were diving straight into the business of negotiating deals, listing properties and doing everything to make this year happen.
The impact on the property industry was immediate. All transactions heading to the deeds office went on hold and with that came mounting risks and expenses as sellers would incur additional costs in rates clearance figures extensions and so on. It was important to deal with communicating this to our clients.
The reality was upon us that the property market was taking its biggest knock in modern history and our market was not going to be the same. For the second year in a row, a financial and business plan that had only just been finalised went out the window, as we started to figure what life after Corona would be for our industry and our business.
Before the virus had hit, the new marketing campaign chosen by the team focused on opportunities and resilience in a shifting enviroment. “Where others see obstacles, we see opportunities.” This philosophy became meaningful in ways we had never imagined. Being a small business with low overheads, Commercial Exchange has the luxury and flexibility to go in any direction we want without unbundling high capital investments.
The first thing that happened is our weekly Monday meetings were shifted to Skype and for the first time ever, they started promptly at 8 am. We decided to introduce an operational meeting on Friday mornings at 8 am.
Some areas of the business showed an unexpected upside – companies we had previously barely scraped the surface with came to the fore and within two weeks we had site acceptances for two leading supermarket chains, so somebody was surviving (if not thriving) in this market.
We also shifted our business focus immediately. We do not foresee office rental deals happening this year, and definitely no business travel or any conferencing or auctions in real time – that’s over for now. This has been replaced by virtual networking.
From a client point of view, we have to look at the future from the needs of our existing clients and that will mean changing some of our offering. In terms of new clients, it’s time to find the bargain hunters and black swan investors. It’s time to digitise and rework the South African profile and it’s time to take this moment to pursue avenues we’ve long dreamed and drop anything that doesn’t work.
Last year at a conference, one of the business gurus was providing an analysis of businesses that succeeded and those that failed – and I remember he said this: That those that did best had this in common – they viewed the world as it was and dealt with it. For me this, became very important. What exactly is going on in the property industry, what is going on in the world and what will work and what doesn’t. Now, more than ever, there is no time for rose-coloured spectacles, no time for delusions and no space for hanging to ideas that can only fail.
By focusing on what our changing world needs, we at Commercial Exchange have every intention of ensuring that we thrive in the future, and so do our clients.